At least 55 people have died and nearly 350,000 have been displaced in the Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya by floods caused by three days of heavy rains, Agence France-Presse, or AFP, reported Wednesday.
“The death toll could further rise, as more news starts coming from the submerged villages,” Pravin Bakshi, deputy commissioner of the West Garo Hills district of the northeastern state of Meghalaya, told Reuters.
Personnel of the Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Response Force, or NDRF, have reportedly been called in to rescue trapped civilians and evacuate people living in the flood-affected areas. However, bad weather has reportedly hindered rescue efforts in the region.
“We have put the entire region on a state of maximum alert,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma reportedly said. “So far, 35 people have died in separate cases of drowning and landslides in the last two days with more than 20 more still missing.”
The state of Meghalaya is home to the village of Mawsynram, which, according to estimates, receives 467 inches of rain a year, making it the wettest place on the planet.
In the adjoining state of Assam, where 20 people have been killed so far, the army has reportedly been called in to rescue people trapped in low-lying areas.
“On one hand Guwahati got heavy rains. On the other hand there has been very heavy run-off of water from the adjoining hills of Meghalaya,” a senior state official told The Indian Express, an Indian daily.
“Five people have died in Guwahati alone in separate incidents of mudslides and electrocution after neck-deep floodwaters submerged localities,” M Angamuthu, Deputy Commissioner of the Kamrup district of Assam -- one of the worst affected regions -- reportedly said. A number of people have also been moved to relief camps, according to local media reports.
The floods in the northeast, caused by heavy monsoon rains, come just a few weeks after the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir was inundated by heavy rains, which left nearly 300 people dead and displaced thousands.